Many community health care centers exist all over Long Island today, but the first one did not open in Suffolk County until 1968. It was a joint venture between Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip and Suffolk County that led to the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Health Center.
The hospital's off-site facility, which opened on July 1, 1968 in a store in Wyandanch, became a model for health care centers that came later. The focus of the center was to bring medical care to people in an area that were lacking that vital service. To be more appealing to the community, the center planned to provide services for any member of the family, from a baby to a grandparent.
A general doctor was available during office hours, but in the early years of the clinic, many of the specialists traveled from their own office or hospital to the center to offer their services. It was not until 1986 that the center had its first full-time pediatrician.
Following that, specialists in other areas followed including prenatal care, adult medicine, cardiology and others. Services expanded also to provide more care to the community in the form of family planning, nutritional counseling, vision care, medical social work services, community outreach and more.
No one at any of the Suffolk County offices we contacted knew if any other name was planned for the center. However, since it opened three months after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death on April 4, 1968, the conclusion was if another name was chosen, it was changed to honor the slain civil rights leader.
Today the MLK Community Health Center, still located in Wyandanch on Straight Path, continues to provide state-of-the-art medical services and health screenings for the community. It's still a Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center satellite but now under the jurisdiction of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Division of Patient Care Services.
The Wyandanch center is now one of eight family health centers in the county and handles close to 50,000 patients per year.
The answer to last week's trivia question is: The well known print artist who lived in West Islip was Tatyana Grosman. She lived on Gladstone Avenue.
This week's trivia question: How did a part of the Beach Street Middle School become known as the Rotunda? The answer in next week's column.